The name “Sérifos” comes from the ancient Greek word “stérifos”, meaning means “sterile” (other connotations are “deprived”, “I do not have” conceptually leading to the meaning “infertile”). The ancient Greeks called the island like this because it was very dry.
The first inhabitants of the island were the Aeolians from Thesalía in the 8th century BC, but 100 years later (7th century BC) they abandoned it, because it was too far away from their homeland. Not much later, the island fell into the hands of the Ionians and from then until the Roman era the city of Sérifos was a quarry.
Around the 6th century BC, the island of Sérifos was home to a breed of frogs, whose noise was almost impossible to hear. This is why when Greeks observe someone (mostly politicians) who doesn’t talk much or doesn’t speak clearly they called them a «Serífian frog».
During the Greco-Persian war (499-449 BC), Sérifos took part on the side of the Greeks. They also participated in the Battle of Salamis (480 BC) and in the battle of Plataea (479 BC).
From the Roman times until 1204 (4th Crusade), Sérifos was used as a place of exile. Then, it remained in the hands of the various conquerors until the Greek Independence war and the inhabitants of Sérifos lived a very miserable life. The first conquerors of Sérifos were the Venetians, and they were much crueler here compared to other islands in the Aegean Sea. They robbed the citizens to the point of wretchedness and tortured them until they gave up all of their money. Then, came the Ottomans (1537 AD), who did exactly what they did to every other island in the Aegean Sea, they slaughtered men, sold women and children to the slave markets and those who remained unsold were also killed.
When the Russian-Ottoman war took place (1770-1774), the citizens of Séerifos were living a dull life, because of the island’s lack of food and money.
Those 600 years of depressing life ended in 1821 (Greek Independence War), where Sérifos raised the Greek flag and one year later they were released from the Ottoman administration. In fact, the mines reopened and quarried iron from 1867 until 1941, where then they fell into the hands of Italy and 1943 of Germany. Thankfully, for the citizens, Italy and Germany were uninterested in the island, and only made them pay taxes.
Sérifos or Chora (the capital) is a city perched on a mountain known to some as “Eagle’s nest”, because of its amazing view. There is a Castle, which was destroyed in the 13th century AD by pirates. In the town there is a Folklore Museum, where it has many artifacts and texts regarding Sérifos’ history. In the area there also stands the church of Saint John Theológos, built on a rock over the ruins of the temple of the Goddess Athena.
From antiquity to date, with some break periods, iron has been mined in the city of Sérifos. The abandoned bridges in the bays of Vágia, Coutalá and Megálo Livádi (compass anomalies are also observable here) stand to remind us of the history of the island. For further details of the islands mining history, visit the Museum of Rocks in Megálo Livádi.